Update on Windreach Farm's Operations due to COVID-19. MORE INFO

Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight – September 2020

Agnes Shaw – started September 2018

Our Summer Volunteer Spotlight is on Agnes Shaw. Agnes started volunteering at WindReach in September 2018 and has jumped right into her role with ease.

Agnes volunteers because she has always enjoyed working with people and animals, making WindReach a perfect fit for her. She spent her career as a small animal veterinarian and brings with her an understanding and appreciation of the human-animal bond. Agnes knows animals touch a deep place in so many people and finds it a privilege to engage in the interactions between the farm animals and the Farm’s participants and visitors.

Agnes enjoys seeing people young and old light up when they first hold a chicken or rabbit on their laps. “It is wonderful to see someone who was a bit fearful at first being able to hand feed a sheep or goat,” says Agnes.

She has learned that many wonderful people work incredibly hard to make other people’s lives better. WindReach brings out the best in people and has had a positive impact on many individuals in her community.

Besides all of her veterinarian skills, Agnes is a wonderful photographer and on a number of occasions has offered her wonderful photography skills to come up and take pictures of the WindReach Farm property and animals. You will be able to see some of her work when we complete and launch the new version of the Farm’s website later this year.

Agnes chooses to donate her time as it makes her happy to be able to make a small difference in the world. Thank you, Agnes.

One person CAN make a difference!


Volunteer Spotlight – Summer 2020

Marie Akins – started 2019

Our Summer Volunteer Spotlight is on Marie Akins. Marie started volunteering at WindReach Farm in January 2019 and has been a wonderful, dedicated volunteer ever since.

Marie came to us as a Durham College placement student in the animal care program and she volunteered at the Stables, assisting with horse care, chores, lessons and wherever she was needed. She easily completed her almost 200 placement hours and wanted to stay on. Her placement went so well she was hired as a weekend staff at the Stables and continued to work on weekends and stat holidays until COVID-19 hit. She pitched in and filled in several weekends and holidays to help cover many shifts from the Fall of 2019 to March 2020.

Since the Farm had to shut down due to COVID-19 in March, Marie has continued to volunteer almost full-time hours during the week as well as on weekends to help out Pat and Andrew with all of the horse care and chores at the Stables. With protocols and procedures having to adapt due to COVID-19, we have had to keep the number of people on the Farm to a minimum, thus making more work for the handful of staff and volunteers, but that hasn’t deterred Marie! Her dedication and passion have been incredibly helpful and appreciated.

Most recently, Marie helped to transform the star of our drive-throughs, Abby into a stunning unicorn that delighted visiting children and adults alike. Marie took great pride and care in dressing her up as a unicorn for our June and July drive-throughs, and don’t worry, if you haven’t seen our unicorn yet, I’m sure she will be joining us again for the August 21st and 23rd drive-throughs.

Thank you, Marie for all that you do at WindReach Farm.

One person CAN make a difference!

Volunteer Spotlight – June 2020

Rosemary Oliver – started 2007

June’s Volunteer Spotlight is on Rosemary Oliver. Rosemary started volunteering at WindReach Farm in 2007 and has been a very dedicated volunteer ever since.

Rosemary initially helped with animal care on the Farm side (feeding, watering, and cleaning pens), but she does so much more now. She is an extremely talented and creative person, who uses her skills – both existing and newly learned – in many ways at WindReach.

She is the lead volunteer in our wool group and helps with the entire wool process from sorting the wool after the sheep have been sheared, to washing, teasing, carding, dyeing and spinning. She and the wool group have created many products using the wool – felted soaps, needle felted animals and knit products   to name a few.

This past month, Rosemary took it upon herself to sew several masks for the staff and a handful of volunteers who are on site working at WindReach through the COVID-19 closure. The masks are washable with a pocket between two layers, so that a non-woven layer can be added in for better protection. Rosemary had lots of beautiful patterned material that she used to create these farm-themed masks.

Most masks that you see out in the community are solid and can block visual cues, such as facial expressions, lip-reading, and emotions. All of these cues are critical for deaf and hard of hearing people to fully communicate. One of our staff, Andrew is deaf and uses both sign language and lip-reading to communicate with others. When we asked our volunteers for help to find or make a mask that is translucent over the mouth, Rosemary jumped at the challenge to create more masks, and of course she was successful! She will be dropping off more masks for us so that the staff and volunteers will be able to successfully communicate with Andrew while wearing a mask for safety.

Thank you, Rosemary, for all that you do at WindReach Farm.

One person CAN make a difference!

Volunteer Spotlight – May 2020

Taylor, Cindy, Erin, Leslie, Ella, Ami, Liz, Emily, and Lesley

We have another wonderful group of volunteers to celebrate in May! These volunteers stepped up back in mid-March and have been caring for some of our furry Beyond the Farm Gate (BFG) ambassadors in their homes ever since. It is very important for our WindReach animals to be friendly and comfortable with people, but it is exceptionally important for our BFG animals to keep being held, loved and handled so that when we are able to return to off site visits, they are ready to go.

Our rabbits, Hopscotch & Lily; Butterscotch & Thumper; and Molly have been well taken care of by Taylor B, Cindy G, Erin S, Leslie, and Ella V.

Our guinea pigs, Peaches & Patches; Astro & Comet; and Petunia & Amelia have been under the wonderful care of Ami A, Liz B, Emily C, and Lesley H. Thanks to Lesley H who has also been caring for our budgie and several chicks that were newly hatched back in March.

We truly do have some amazing volunteers!

Thank you all!

Volunteer Spotlight – April 2020

​Colleen, Sara, Jennifer, Sherry, Dave, and Brett

April’s Volunteer Spotlight is on several staff who, during their temporary leave, continued to support WindReach Farm by helping with chores, property maintenance, animal care, horticultural therapy, virtual programming, and social media.

Thank you to Colleen Arbuckle, Sara Cosway, Jennifer Crothers, Sherry Dodson, David Larkin and Brett Smith!

Brett, Colleen and Jennifer have organized and hosted a few virtual Learning-4-Life (L4L) programs which have involved video calls with the three staff and some of the L4L participants enjoying seeing how the animals at the Farm are doing, a ‘morning chat’ where participants can see and hear what everyone else has been up to, and a craft activity. It has been very well received and staff will continue to offer these virtual sessions three times a week.

Sherry has also been doing some virtual programming with a couple different groups at Ontario Shores. During the sessions, Sherry is on site at the Farm in the gardens and trying to engage the participants in some horticultural activities. Sherry has also been busy at the Farm getting gardens ready, watering and tending to the plants.

Dave has been a huge help with animal care and property care/maintenance. He has been volunteering at the stables and the barn, helping to feed and care for the animals and clean up their pens. Those of you who do help with animal care know what a big job this is to do and can appreciate the amount of physical labour that goes into it. He has also helped Tony, as needed, with property maintenance.

Sara has been busy keeping our social media outlets up to date. She has been helping by sourcing pictures for all posts on Facebook and Instagram, as well as Mailchimp for our donor outreach. She has scheduled and put up all posts on social media and replied to any questions as well.

As you can see, these staff have kept extremely busy during their ‘time off’ work from WindReach. It is apparent they love WindReach and the people we serve. They truly do know what it is like to volunteer, and this makes us all appreciate even more what our wonderful volunteers do at WindReach Farm.

Thank you all!


Volunteer Spotlight – March 2020

Carolynn MacKinnon – started February 2019

Carolynn came to WindReach early in 2019 after retiring from an intense career. She was looking for a positive environment and was looking to do something that was both close to home and that would allow her to work outside. She went online to google ‘volunteer locally’ and found WindReach Farm.

When asked what she likes about volunteering at WindReach, Carolynn answered ‘being outside’ and helping out with the Beyond the Farm Gate program where she gets to go to different places all the time (schools, seniors residences, community organizations). She enjoys being able to connect with all ages, stages and abilities – this includes working with children, women and seniors. Carolynn enjoys the positive outlook of the WindReach staff and the whole operation.

Carolynn is most surprised about the interaction she sees between people and animals and what a huge impact the animals can have on people in such a short time. Recently, at a seniors’ home, one of the ladies appeared quite comfortable with having a chicken on her lap. She had connected with the chicken because of her past. It turns out that she was former farmer who was dealing with dementia and wasn’t coherent a lot of the time during the visit, except for when she held the chicken. She told Carolynn “this is the best day I’ve had in a very long time!”

Carolynn wishes more people knew about WindReach Farm and the amazing programs here. She wishes more people knew how easy it is to interact with, and be part of, WindReach programs. The volunteer program is very flexible and accessible for everyone! You can do as much or as little as you want within the required 10 hours per month. “It’s not a lot, really – volunteers are given the flexibility to work around their schedule and the Farm’s needs.”

When she’s not volunteering at WindReach Farm, Carolynn is kept busy with her new home and working on various projects there. She is an artist and enjoys painting and pottery, as well as curling and travelling. She likes to stays busy and is still figuring out how this whole retirement thing works!

Thank you, Carolynn, for all that you do at WindReach Farm.

One person CAN make a difference!

Volunteer Spotlight – February 2020

person smiling with horseMichal Kiezebrink – started May 2017

Michal came to WindReach Farm in May 2017 for a New Volunteer Orientation after her mom suggested checking it out. She had never heard of WindReach before then, but was impressed when she arrived.

With her farming background, Michal started out volunteering with mucking stalls, something she had familiarity with, and has since assisted with therapeutic riding lessons and other stable chores. She also helps with turning horses in and out, grooming and tacking up horses before lessons and leading or sidewalking during lessons. Michal really enjoys helping out at Holly Jolly Jubilee and other special events like the Whitby Santa Claus Parade – both on and off site in the community. Michal’s scoliosis doesn’t slow her down, as she manages to put in a full day volunteering with a physical job at WindReach, and is often there two days a week.

When asked what she enjoys most about volunteering, Michal said she has made lots of friends while volunteering, both human and horse-kind and loves spending time with both. “Seeing kids smile and have a good time riding! It’s a lot of fun,” she replied.

One of the best things to happen to Michal while volunteering at WindReach is she now feels she has more compassion for others. She has noticed her patience level has also increased while working with animals and people.
When Michal is not volunteering, she enjoys being home spending time with her family, friends and just hanging out with her Old English Bulldog, Hagrid.
Thank you Michal for all that you do at WindReach Farm.

One person CAN make a difference!

Volunteer Spotlight – January 2020

Michael Winter – started March 2018

Michael retired at the start of 2018 and was looking for something to occupy his time. Our then Board member Jon, suggested he look into volunteering at WindReach Farm. Michael had no idea what WindReach Farm was but thought it sounded interesting. “I’ve always felt that I was very fortunate to have had the career at OPG that I did, and once I had retired, I was looking for some way to give back, and the Farm has been the perfect opportunity for that.”

His volunteer jobs are mainly in the property maintenance area and include: grass cutting, tree pruning, trimming, fence repairs, snow removal/clearing and whatever project is on our property manager Tony’s list.

When asked what has surprised Michael the most about WindReach Farm, he replied “the programs and what they can do for the participants is quite amazing.” He is also surprised at the number of volunteers (300) compared to full-time staff (15).

Michael hopes to share with others WindReach Farm’s services, and wants people to benefit from the amazing programs there. He tries to help promote WindReach Farm with others in the community by talking about his experience here and sharing it with those who may benefit.
Michael has a keen interest in motorcycles and enjoys riding his motorcycle when the weather is nice.
Thank you Michael for all that you do at WindReach Farm.

One person CAN make a difference!